FIRST-TRUMP#top..........Sound the alarm in Zion..... ...........................

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. A Priest sounds the alarm on a shofar

 

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MEDIOCRITY

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee.


According to my dictionary mediocrity is: "Of medium quality, second rate, neither good nor bad." I would like to add some synonyms to the list given by the dictionary if I may, just in case the ones given do not quite suit you. From my thesaurus I derive these words: "Commonplace, every day, vulgar, usual, ordinary, middle of the road, fence straddler, neither here nor there, pedestrian, stereotypical, nondescript, humdrum, plain, blend in with the crowd, philistine, typical, stock, regular, usual, and a few other words either too formal for me or too foreign for me to understand. Being a rather ordinary fellow myself there's a lot of the upper crust stuff that escapes me.

Did any of the words given fit you? It seems to me as how most of us set our eyes on the line that runs down the middle of the road. We don't want to be too far one way or the other for fear of not being acceptable to those who also set their eyes on that same line. We feel that if we're average, if we do the job well enough to keep us from getting fired; if we get the grades that cause us to pass to the next grade, that is all that matters. Should we fall short we will be left behind or we will lose our job, so we don't want to do that. If we get too far ahead we'll stand out in the crowd and expectations will be placed upon us, as well as scorn by our contemporaries so we don't want to do that. Middle of the roaders live a comfortable and an acceptable life. That's all that matters.

For myself I have found that being of average height is an advantage. Clothes, bikes, cars, doors and the like are all just right for me. I have little problem with anything fitting me because of my size. My father on the other hand was rather short and rotund. Because of this he had to purchase his clothes at a special store where he also had to pay a special price. My brother had the opposite problem vertically, but the same problem horizontally, so he too had to purchase special clothes. Another problem he had was with my trailer. I live in a comfortable trailer with an unusually low ceiling. My brother had to stand stoop-shoulder in my trailer, and because of his weight the floor would sag where he stood. It was clear to me that being oversize was not an advantage where my trailer was concerned.

A neighbor fellow is (was) quite oversize as well. He liked to ride a bicycle. The only problem is that his bicycle couldn't hold his weight and so my neighbor had to continually buy new wheels to replace the bent ones.

They say that size doesn't matter. I found that it does matter, and very much so at times.

Some times our size, or the lack thereof, is our advantage. For instance David and Goliath. Neither of these two combatants could be said to be average. One was literally a giant, and a warrior to boot, and the other was apparently a gangly youth who kept sheep for a living. At the time of the battle, one wore a suit of armor for protection and wielded a spear the size not far from a telephone pole; and the other had nothing but faith for a shield and carried with him a skinny slingshot. Not exactly a fair fight, wouldn't you say?

If Goliath had won the battle he would have been seen as nothing but an oversize bully and never have been heard of again. Had David been a mighty warrior, having won the battle, then he too would have disappeared into the oblivion of history. It's the uniqueness of this pair that causes the battle to be worthy of note.

Besides the descriptive words for Mediocrity given above there are these words as well. If you didn't find yourself in the former list, perhaps you'll discover yourself in these words: Normal, average, popular.

Hello? Are you there? Did you find yourself in these three words?

Most of my life I struggled to be average, to attain the commonplace. I felt so inferior to the rest of the world that if I could just achieve a D minus I would count it a great victory. My life had been one of just barely getting by, and that with very much effort on my part. It was as if life was one almost experience after another. For some reason, as hard as I tried, I just couldn't get over the wall that blocked me from mediocrity. In my mind I was wallowing in the subnormal, and that is where I belonged. Am I describing anyone else out there? By the ever-increasing incidence of depression and suicide, I suspect I'm not alone.

For some of us the attaining of the middle of the road, of being average, is a great struggle. It's like playing ping-pong with yourself. It's for sure you'll always win, and it's for sure you'll always lose. But at the same time playing the game makes one very fleet of foot. I was one who stayed to himself for fear of exposing my lack of mediocrity. If I didn't speak, I could say nothing wrong. I lived in my own little fish bowl. Should someone happen to pass by my bowl I became nervous, and if they actually stopped to show me some attention, I figured it must be because they had nothing to do that day.

Not everyone lacks ability and self esteem in their struggle to attain mediocrity. There are some who have just the opposite problem that I had. They are too tall, so they stand stoop-shouldered to conceal their deformity. They're too talented, so they either have to refrain from participating in an endeavor, or they have to throw the game once in a while. Have you ever played checkers with someone so good at the game they always win? You finally stop playing with them, and you claim they win by cheating. If that wizard of the checkerboard expects to play anyone he or she must throw the game every once in a while so they will appear mediocre.


Fashion is another area in which we struggle for the average. We will spend all our money to purchase clothing or apparel that fits the norm of the day, but will have to be replaced the next week because the fashion has changed. We have to be diligent with our appearance, making sure we are wearing the right color, the right label, our pants just low enough to appear popular yet not so low, nor so high as to appear obscene or straight (respectable). Our earrings and nose rings must be in just the right place and of the right number, not too many nor too few as to be either obscure or too obvious. Then there's the tattoos and the posters on the bedroom wall to consider, as well as the color, brand, and up-to-dateness of one's I-Pod and cell phone.

Mediocrity is not an easy thing to attain. And the more advanced and civilized we become, the struggle grows that much harder, and that much more expensive.


My Thesaurus provided a few more words to help define Mediocrity. Just in case you haven't found yourself as yet, and you feel left out, try these on for size. They might just be in fashion for you: "musty, drab, stale, unexciting, unimaginative, boring, colorless."

We might call these people the lower end of mediocrity. They are part of the norm, the commonplace, but they bounce on the rooftop of the plebeian, the riff-raff, the no-account. This category of person is one we do not necessarily disdain, but we avoid because they're liable to bore us to death with their pointless and uninteresting chatter. Their lives are so commonplace as to be objectionable. There is but one advantage to people such as these. Through them we find solace in the fact that we have not yet reached the bottom of the middle road. They are our field markers, our outer limit indicators, our yellow lights that warn us we're drifting too far off course. We want to have some color, some points of interest, some clever anecdote to tell after the weather has been discussed to its fullest. But we don't want to appear so colorful or interesting that people will begin to rely on us or build up an expectation of us. Nor do we want the world of middle-of-the-roaders to feel intimidated or uncomfortable around us. This is a hard line to maintain. But maintain it we must if we are to remain amongst those on the broad way of life.


The Bible tells us:

15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Rev 3:)

Israel was a nation of people taken out of bondage and specially trained and conditioned to live in, and care for the land that God calls His own. They were to be caretakers both of the land, and of one another, placing all before and above their own selves and their own desires. Those who entered the Promised Land followed this expectation, and they survived quite well under the Theocracy of God. But the children of those so prepared did not fare so well. They saw the pleasures of the people around them, of the world, and they began to blend what others had with what they were given. They tried to hold two tigers by the tail, and yet not get bit.


21And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. (1Kings 18:)

The people of God were trying to play both ends against the middle. They wanted what the world had to offer, yet they wanted to remain a special people under the protection of the one and only God Almighty.


8Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. 9Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; 10And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? 11Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? (Jer 7:)

We are seeing more and more sin and corruption accepted and even being invited into the churches, and hearing from those churches that God is now allowing and approving of these things they approve of. As we can see by the above verses, this is not a new problem. It has been a problem from the beginning. We think we can play around in the world, pack on the mud of compromise, and then come to church on Sunday and pretend like we're little saints. We might fool our fellow man, and even fool ourselves, but we're not fooling God:


16As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. 17But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. 18But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted ["lacked, not had"] all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. (Jer 44:)

People got what they wanted, and that is all they were interested in. They weren't serving God because they were loyal, or because they loved Him. They only served Him, in outward appearances, because it served their purpose to do so.


19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent (Rev 3:)

As you can see, those in the passage above wanted what they could get, but they didn't want to be disciplined and corrected. If God was going to keep them in line then they wanted no part of God, other than to carry His name. They would serve whoever or whatever gave them what they wanted. When they served anyone but God they got what they wanted. We know the "other gods" do not exist. And we can tell that it was not God who was giving these people what they wanted. This being the case, who do you suppose was granting them the things they wanted? And who do you suppose is giving the wishy-washy Christian what they want today?

We are told this by Jesus:

18If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. (John 15:)

19If ye were of the world, the world would love his own. The world loves those who are like themselves. We don't even notice those who act like us, look like us and who accept us the way we are. And that's the way we like it. In fact we want to be well loved and respected just the way we are. We want to win the awards without having to lift our finger. We want it all without having to give a thing of ourselves. In the past, and in poorer countries today this can not be had. People have to struggle merely to survive, especially if their survival involves being a Christian, because Christianity is outlawed. But in our society, where we are surrounded by luxury and lottery tickets, we can have the very best (if we don't mind last year's cast-offs), and the hope of being a millionaire with little or no effort whatever. Even the poorest of us can have such a hope. And whereas being a Christian is a life and death situation elsewhere, and in times past, being a Christian is a common occurrence in this and other affluent countries. We take it for granted. And we take the rewards that are offered the Christian for granted as well. Even the poorest (in Spiritual maturity and desire) of Christian is provided just as much hope as is the richest of the Apostles. We treat Christianity and the rewards offered the Christian with less interest than we do our morning cup of coffee: "You have been baptized and now you are a Christian, a child of God, having the promise of eternal life in Heaven." "That's nice. Now, what's for supper?"


1These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. (John 16:)

In the synagogues? Doing God's service? You mean in the churches they will persecute the Christian? Surely not. Didn't Jesus just say it was the world that would persecute the Christian? Now He's telling us the churches will persecute us? Could He have been mistaken? Or maybe it was a mistranslation, do you think? Surely Christians, those carrying the banner of God's peace and love wouldn't persecute other Christians. But then again, look at the Inquisition, the Martyrs of the faith, and even Jesus and the Apostles. It was the church that persecuted these people and killed them. And even today in this country, it's not the world who persecutes the denominational Christian. They could care less about them. It's the other denominations that persecute, demean, and condemn the other denominations not to their liking.{I include Humanism as a denomination. They believe in Jesus, they just don't accept Him.) It has me wondering what the world is that Jesus brought the Christian out of. Consider, all the Apostles, all the disciples, which apparently numbered in the thousands at one time, were Jews, belonging to the strict Jewish faith. They were not brought out of a world of unbelief, but rather out of the firmest and the most strict of beliefs. They believed in the one and only God Almighty, and they served Him faithfully, at least in behavior and formality, just as did the Pharisees. They had to do so, or by law be stoned or at least be cast out of the country. Remember the woman taken in adultery? And remember, they wanted to punish the disciples for rubbing grain in their hands on the Sabbath, and they wanted to kill Jesus because He said that Isaiah's words were fulfilled in their hearing. The nation of Israel was not merely a nation, it was by in large a church under the rulership of the Temple and the Sanhedrin.


34And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mark 8:)

The Jews, under the old system of the law, needed do nothing but obey a few rituals to be saved. Saved to them was not a Kingdom way up in the clouds somewhere waiting to provide them with golden wings. Saved to them meant a Kingdom here, on earth, where their Messiah would once again give them their own rule as it was in the days of King David. Their hope was for a nation of milk and honey. Yet they had to perform as a nation, a body, everyone fulfilling their part, for this to happen. If one person was out of synch, the entire body suffered and faltered. These people presented themselves at the Temple three times a year as required, no matter where they lived. We see this by the throngs that were present during the feasts. We see this at Pentecost when the various languages were acknowledged as hearing and understanding the words of the Apostles.

When God punished those who were serving the Queen of Heaven (which by the way has nothing to do with Mary and the Catholic church, which certainly didn't exist at that time), He was punishing those who were doing everything that was expected of them. This was especially so during the time of Jesus. The nation, and certainly the Temple, was doing precisely what was demanded of them. They were perfectly in step with the law. Yet they were out of step with God:


Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, (Mat 23:)

We can easily get the picture that Jesus was condemning the actions of the Pharisees and the Scribes. This is not so. Their behavior was exemplary. They did precisely what they were supposed to do, and many other things besides that were handed down to them by the traditions of men. It wasn't in what they did that made a difference. They can wash their cups and saucers in a ceremonious way all they want. They can pray all they want. There's nothing wrong with any of these. What was wrong is that they were doing all they do for the praise of man and not for the glory of God. They sought their own glory. So their reward was already had.


20For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:)

The righteousness of the Pharisees was beyond reproach. It was perfect. How can we, an ordinary people, exceed the righteousness of a perfect and obedient person? It can't. Nor is it expected that we do. But the righteousness of these people was outward. Jesus is talking about an inward righteousness, a righteousness that is performed in a closet, and the world will never even know it exists. It's a righteousness directed toward God only, that even the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. This the Pharisees and the Scribes didn't even have an inkling of, even though they may well have taught it, as it is taught today when the Bible is read. But we can tell by the behavior of so many of those preaching the words, that the Word is not in them. They are still of the world.


27And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? (Luke 14:)

I highly suspect when Jesus spoke these words, which He repeated several times in His ministry, that no one understood what He was talking about. The only cross they knew anything about was reserved for the worst of criminals. Besides this, they all believed that the Messiah would live forever (John 12:32-34), so there would have been no way they could have understood what Jesus was saying to them. The only reason we now understand what Jesus was talking about, and what He was saying is that we have a historical view to look back on. They had none of that. They only had a vague and cryptic concept of their coming Messiah that required explaining for them to even begin to see that Jesus fit the picture.

Jesus said those who decide to follow Him should first count the cost of discipleship. Whenever we join an organization or purchase a magazine subscription we first want to know the cost. Is it worth our time or money? Is the rewards worth the cost? Can I trust the person or organization to live up to their part of the bargain? We ask these questions for the simplest of things. Yet when we become a Christian we don't bother asking beyond the peripheral, accepting off-hand that by merely signing a pledge card or taking a bath that we will reap all of God's rewards and spend eternity in Heaven. Yet Jesus said we must count the cost of discipleship. And He says the cost is everything we have, are, or ever will be. He insists upon everything. But we would rather listen to a man's accounting of what Jesus has said, allowing this verse and others like it to pass unnoticed into oblivion. I don't think our lack of interest in the Words of God is going to get us any farther than it did those of the Old Testament who disregarded the Words of God. What is your thinking on this matter?


6Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Mat 22:)

8For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. (Heb 8:)

Do you know the laws of God? Are you willing to follow them if you knew them? Take a look at the above Scriptures and see what the cost is for following the Lord. Are you willing to give up home, family, and a normal, mediocre life in order to follow Jesus? Are you willing to love the Lord with everything you have? If you're not willing to do this, then you will not be given the laws, and you will believe with all your heart that you truly have them. You will be just as convinced that your mediocre, double minded and lukewarm Christianity is just as valid as is that of the Apostles. And you will have plenty of company and support from others in your mediocre church to support your belief. You will also be able to find an abundance of Scripture to support your mediocre beliefs.

1Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (Heb 10:)

Examine these verses carefully. This is precisely what we are doing today. We are establishing our own form of righteousness and following our own values and standards and not the standards of God. God demands perfection. We have redirected that standard to something we can live comfortably with. To some that might mean no standards whatever. And to others it might mean a great deal of zeal, but toward the helping of others, or to the church, one's denomination. As fine as these are, they are not directed toward the One they should be directed toward. The world of unbelievers has many people willing to sacrifice everything for others, their country or an organization. The Military is made up of just such a people. But this zeal does not save them.


5Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?(1Cor 13:)

Have you given your life, your Spiritual life a close examination? Have you compared what you see in yourself with what you read in the Bible? Are you in communication with the Holy Spirit? Do you listen closely to what the Spirit of God is telling you? And do you follow the commands you're given to the best of your ability? Do you admit and confess your errors and failures to God so that He might forgive you and reestablish your standing and your communication with God? Do you know it takes only a speck of leaven, of sin, to contaminate your spirit and hamper your communication with the Lord?

Or, are you instead listening to the advice and the doctrines of men? If so, read Matthew 7:21-27; Rev 13:11-13; Mat 15:14, and read up on Jim Jones and the People's Temple.


Mediocrity will cause you to fit right in with the world, even the world of the church. But what do you think it will do for your relationship with God?



15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (2Cor 2:)

14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:)

24Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Cor 9:)

1As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. 2My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:)

20At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (John 14:)

17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (Rev 3:)

4Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these. 5For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; ....... 8Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. 9Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; 10And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? 11Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD. 12But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. 13And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; 14Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. 15And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren . (Jer 7:)


 

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